Monday, May. 20, 2024

Donavan Tops The List After Markel/USEF Young Horse Selection Trials

Judges are rarely short of words, but in the 6-year-old competition at this year’s Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trials they were struck almost speechless.


Judges are rarely short of words, but in the 6-year-old competition at this year’s Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Eastern Selection Trials they were struck almost speechless.

Donavan, the fabulous mount of Cesar Parra, earned a preliminary test score of 8.34 and a finale test score of 8.22 for a winning total of 8.26 at the competition, held during the Raleigh CDI-W/Y/J Capital Dressage Classic, June 1-3 in Raleigh, N.C. Following Saturday’s preliminary test, Axel Steiner, speaking for the panel of judges that also included Jane Ayers and Janet Foy, hesitated for a moment and then simply said, “We like the horse very much.”

The Eastern selection trials joined the Central States and Western selection trials as competitions across the country where young horses vied to qualify for the FEI World Breeding Championships for Young Horses in Dressage, to be held Aug. 2-5 in Verden, Germany, and for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships, to be held in Lexington, Ky., in September.

The young horse competition consists of a preliminary test, which counts for 40 percent of the total score, and a finale test, which counts for 60 percent.

Parra couldn’t have been happier with Donavan (Diamond Hit—Consul mare). “I like him more every day. And I’m even more sure today that this is my horse,” Parra said.

Parra has been impressed with Donavan’s recent improvement. “It’s like someone who was sleeping and he’s waking up and waking up. With the training, he’s gotten so much stronger and now you can see the passage and piaffe that he’s offering,” he said.
“This is a horse for the future. We’ll probably move on to Prix St. Georges next year. He’s already doing everything. At this moment, my focus is to make the best of the horse. I love the horse,” he said. “I think this is a horse that can easily win in any competition in the world.”

It wasn’t just in the selection trials that Parra and Donavan have had success. They collected numerous ribbons this past winter on the Florida circuit. Parra, however, said his success with Donavan is a team effort that involves the owners—Dr. Jackson Morgan and Katie Riley, his coach Volker Moritz and U.S. Equestrian Federation Young Horse coach, Scott Hassler.

“I must thank Scott Hassler for helping me tremendously with learning about the Young Horse com-
petition,” Parra said. “I’ve been an FEI rider for 20 years now, but the young horses are new to me. It really is its own world, which is very exciting because it has helped me to fill little gaps that are found in the Grand Prix ring. I’m looking forward to riding more young horses in the future.”

Parra and Donavan now top the seven-horse short list announced by the USEF for the World Breeding Championships 6-year-old division, with their final score of 8.26 the highest of all the 6-year-old divisions at the three regional competitions. Two represen-tatives from each age group will represent the United States at the FEI World Breeding Championships.

Cabana Boy Promoted
In the Eastern trials 5-year-old competition, Christopher Hickey and Cabana Boy finished on top with a 8.24, but they had some serious competition from the Central States winner.

Rebecca Knollman, of Maineville, Ohio, the winner of the Markel/USEF 5-Year-Old Horse Central States Selection Trials at Lamplight Dressage in May, traveled east to compete in Raleigh in hopes of raising her 7.80 score from that competition.

She did. She and Solaris Hit, a Hanoverian mare (Sandro Hit—Great Rubina) bred by H. Gisselmann, finished in Raleigh with a 8.08.

With their win at the Eastern States trials, Cabana Boy and Hickey put themselves onto the short list of 5-year-olds.

Asked if he’d go to Verden if invited, Hickey gave a quick affirmative. “I have no idea of our chances. It’s still a few more months away, but this horse has progressed so much in the last month and a half, and I foresee another good jump in the next month and a half,” Hickey said.

Hickey had nothing but good things to say about Cabana Boy, a Hanoverian gelding (Contucci—Britania, Bordeaux) owned by Hilltop Farm and bred by Douglas and Shannon Langer.

“He’s a wonderful, smooth horse to ride. He has nice, big, expressive, smooth gaits. He’ll develop into a big powerful, successful FEI horse for sure,” Hickey said.

Hickey said the judges really like Cabana Boy’s power and trot. “At his first show, he had the highest score in the trot, which is not his strongest gait. He has a phenomenal walk, and today he did get high scores on his walk. And he also has a really good canter—very bounding and springy off the ground. And he really shows the ability to collect already as a 5-year-old,” Hickey said.


Knollman’s second place behind Hickey and Cabana Boy brought her scores that moved her into fourth on the short list for the 5-year-old division.

“My whole goal coming here was to improve on my scores from Lamplight. So I’m happy I was able to do that today. Axel Steiner told me that the 8.5 given me for submission was the highest they had awarded in submission for the day. So that was very nice,” Knollman said.

Like other competitors, Knollman is aiming for an invitation to the World Breeding Championships and if she gets one, she’ll go. “We’ll just have to see how things work out,” she said. The top two on the short list for each age group will be invited to travel to Verden, and if either of them decline, the next down the short list will be issued invitations.

Making Improvements
Before she traveled east to Raleigh, Knollman had ridden Solaris Hit to victory in the 5-year-old division at the Central States selection trials, May 18-20, at Lamplight Dressage in Wayne, Ill.

For Knollman, her win May 18-20, was particularly important because she focuses much of her training on the development of young horses. Her success with Solaris Hit, tells her that she’s going in the right direction with her training.

“It was nice to hear what the judges had to say. I really like the young horse program, and my focus is to bring more young horses up through it—some to sell and some to keep that will hopefully be FEI horses one day,” Knollman said.

Knollman found Solaris Hit at the Verden Elite Auction in Europe as a 4-year-old. She was attracted to the mare not only because of her beauty but also because “she has a great temperament and is very rideable.”

Knollman, who has a 2-year-old daughter, takes her role as mother seriously and chooses not to run off to Florida with her fellow dressage competitors in the winter. Instead, she stays busy at her Knollwood Dressage teaching students and training horses.

In the young horse competition, a panel of judges gives riders comments immediately following their rides. This gives them the chance to know exactly what judges are thinking and, in the case of the preliminary test, a chance to improve their ride during the final test.

At the Lamplight competition, the judges—Ayers, Foy and Maryal Barnett—heaped much praise on Solaris Hit and on Knollman for her training.

The judges said the mare appeared to be a light, elegant, elastic type of horse that has a lot of natural talent. The trot was praised for its natural cadence and expression. Overall, Knollman was told that Solaris Hit has a wonderful work ethic and a very correct start with her training.

The lone competitor in the Central States 6-year-old competition was a rider from New York—Louisa Eadie riding Judith Sloan’s Welt Cup (Weltmeyer—Hauptstutbuch Graefin). Eadie came alone on the 24-hour journey from her home stable of Roseview Dressage in Millbrook, N.Y. The judges rewarded their trip with 71.28 percent.

“This was definitely worth the trip,” Eadie said after collecting her blue ribbon. “I’m very proud of him. He’s come so far, and he’s such a special horse.”

The panel of judges said that Welt Cup’s trot was a lovely, rhythmic gait that keeps the same tempo very nicely in the medium trot while still gaining ground. All it needed, they said, was a bit more elasticity.
Overall, the judges told Eadie that she and Welt Cup had the potential to go places, saying that they really liked the type, her gaits and that they think she has a really good future.

Eadie and Welt Cup’s final score wasn’t high enough to earn a spot on the short list for the World Breeding Championships.

Lord Albert Reigns
Lord Albert showed the way to the top of the 5-year-old short list for the World Breeding Championships after winning the Markel/USEF 5-Year-Old Young Horse Western Selection Trials with an 83.76 percent.

“He’s a really great horse,” said owner and rider David Blake, of Westlake Village, Calif. “Of all the horses I’ve trained, he’s the best quality horse I’ve owned for sure.”


Lord Albert, bred in Germany by Dr. Albert Schmidt, had been at Steffen and Shannon Peters’ barn when Blake gave him a try. “He was a little naughty, and they asked me if I wanted to try him. And when I did, I said ‘I’ll take him.’ ”

That was back in October of 2006 and since then, Blake has been working to get Lord Albert (Londonderry—Brenda, Brentano II) a bit more focused and consistent. “Under saddle, he’s really, really hot, but on the ground he’s really sweet. It’s like two completely different horses,” Blake said.

The Western Selection Trials were held at Dressage at Flintridge in La Canada-Flintridge, Calif., on May 25-27 and Blake was somewhat surprised by Lord Albert’s high score—not because he doubted the quality of the horse, but because of how focused the gelding was during the competition.

“I know he’s a really good horse, but my first show with him was only at the end of April. So, he hasn’t shown much, but he seemed to have really, really found some focus, which is great. He’s got a lot of energy and he just kind of figured out how to harness it,” Blake said.

The judges, Anne Gribbons, Ayers and Foy, told Blake that they could already see the Grand Prix horse in Lord Albert, and they gave high praise for the gelding’s scope and engagement.

Blake is hoping they’ll travel to Verden. He is also planning to take the gelding to the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Championships. But for the immediate future, Lord Albert has some time off.

“He won’t do anything more for now, because he’s done everything he needs to do so far. I’d like to take him [to the World Breeding Championships]. And after that, we’ll take him to Kentucky and then will take him back home and train him some more and see what he thinks of the flying change.”

German native Dirk Glitz has trained and ridden many top-quality young horses in his career, including having ridden several in the German Young Horse Championships. But his best ride yet was at the Markel/USEF 6-Year-Old Young Horse Western Selection Trials with Sancette, finishing with a final score of 80.20 percent.

“I have to say that this is the best horse I’ve had in my career so far. It’s not just due to the fact that his gaits are fantastic and his rideability is fantastic, but his mind is so great on top of that. I’ve not had one other horse that had all things together. They’d have the character or the gaits or the look. They all had a little bit of something. But I can’t tell you anything that this horse doesn’t have at this point,” Glitz said.

Sancette (Sandro Hit—Cascade, Contender) is a Hanoverian gelding bred in Germany by Dietrich Meyer and owned by trainer Gwen Blake of Enumclaw, Wash.

The horse was imported last May, and Glitz said when he first saw the tape he knew the gelding was something special. “I was impressed with his natural ability,” he said.

Sancette has very limited show experience. In fact, the young horse trials at La Canada-Flintridge was only his third outing, but Glitz said the horse doesn’t seem to need show experience. “You can send him into
any ring and that horse goes to work. He concentrates, he focuses and you just go in and ride,” he remarked.

Glitz and Sancette’s victory at La Canada- Flintridge qualified them for a trip to Lexington in the fall and put them on the short list for Verden. If all goes well, they’ll certainly be in Kentucky and he thinks Sancette will be very competitive at the national level.

The short list for the 5-year-old FEI World Breeding Championships is: 1. Lord Albert, David Blake, 8.37; 2. Cabana Boy, Christopher Hickey, 8.24; 3. Valeska, Willy Arts, 8.11; 4. Solaris Hit, Rebecca Knollman, 8.08; 5. Donnatello, Mette Rosencrantz, 7.84. The short list for the 6-year-old division is: 1. Donavan, Cesar Parra, 8.26; 2. Sancette, Dirk Glitz, 8.02; 3. Donnermuth, Jessica Jo Tate, 8.00; 4. Mix Max, Lars Holmberg, 7.96; 5. Unitas, Teresa Butta, 7.90; 6. Mantika, Kathleen Raine, 7.84; 7. UB40, Alex Robertson, 7.82.

Wayne, IL–May 19-20.
JUDGES: Jane Ayers, Janet Foy, Maryal Barnett.
s5-Yr.-Old Overall – 1. Solaris Hit, R. Knollman, 7.80; 2. Roccoca WF, V. Stock, 7.32; 3. Valentino, A. Burtell, 7.16. s6-Yr.-Old Overall – 1. Welt Cup, L. Eadie, 7.12.


LA CANADA-Flintridge, Ca–May 25-27.
JUDGES: Jane Ayers, Janet Foy, Anne Gribbons.

s5-Yr.-Old Overall – 1. Lord Albert, D. Blake, 8.37; 2. Valeska, W. Arts, 8.11; 3. Donatello, M. Rosencrantz, 7.84. s6-Yr.-Old Overall – 1. Sancete, D. Glitz, 8.02; 2. Mix Max, L. Holmberg, 7.96; 3. Mantika, K. Raine, 7.84.


Raleigh, NC–June 1-3.
JUDGES: Jane Ayers, Janet Foy, Axel Steiner.

s5-Yr.-Old Overall – 1. Cabana Boy, C. Hickey, 8.24; 2. Solaris Hit, R. Knollman, 8.08; 3. Froelich, T. Butta, 7.57. s6-Yr.-Old Overall – 1. Donavan, C. Parra, 8.26; 2. Donnermuth, J.J. Tate, 8.00; 3. Unitas, T. Butte, 7.90.

Lyndee Kemmet




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